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Saturday, 27 February 2021

PHOTO GALLERY #37: Absalon and Iver Huidfeldt, frigates of the Royal Danish Navy

Absalon and Iver Huidfeldt, frigates of the Royal Danish Navy
This is another photo gallery from my visit to Kiel in 2019, on the first weekend of the 137th Kiel Week. The Kiel Week (German: Kieler Woche) or Kiel Regatta is an annual sailing event in Kiel, the capital of Schleswig-Holstein, Germany. The first weekend of the Kiel Week, the famous Naval Base of Kiel, opens its gates for just four hours per day, for thousands of tourists who are eager to visit the German Navy warships and dozens of foreign warships which visit the city of Kiel, to honor the Kiel Week. Among the visiting ships, were two Royal Danish Navy frigates, the lead ship of the Absalon class ASW frigates HDMS Absalon (L16, now F341) and the lead ship of the Iver Huitfeldt class AAW frigates HDMS Iver Huidfeldt (F361)! This was a quite rare moment to see both lead ships of the current Danish frigate classes together.
 
Royal Danish Navy frigates Absalon and Iver Huidfeldt at Kiel Naval Base

Absalon class frigate
Photo: A. Henry, US Navy

Iver Huidfeldt class frigate
Photo: Chris Cavas
The two ships in the Absalon class frigates (flexible support ships initially) may be described as a hybrid between a frigate and military transport ship with multiple role capabilities, with the capacity to be transformed from a combat ship with the firepower of a traditional frigate to a hospital ship within a day. The class is based on a frigate-like design, but built with an internal multipurpose deck (flex deck), a stern vehicle ramp and a hatch for launching a landing craft. The ships can serve as command platforms for a staff of 75 persons (naval or joint staff) with a containerized command and control centre, transport and base of operations for a company-sized landing force of some 200 men with vehicles. Alternatively, the flex deck can be used for mine-laying operations with a capacity of some 300 mines, or be fitted out for mine-clearing operations and launch and recover mine detecting and clearing equipment via a retractable gantry crane, adjacent to the stern vehicle ramp, which also is used for launching and recovering the fast landing craft. Furthermore, the flex deck can support a containerized hospital or simply transport a number of ISO standard containers or some 55 vehicles, including up to seven MBTs. The ships can carry two LCPs (Storebro SB90E), two rigid hull inflatable boats and two EH101 helicopters. The ships have been recently reclassified to frigates. The ships retain their names, but changed the pennant number from L16 and L17, to F341 and F342. Both ships will be upgraded with towed array sonars by 2026 to fulfill their new role. Absalon is 137 meters long and has a full displacement around 6,600 tons. The Iver Huitfeldt class is a three-ship class of air defence frigates that entered service in 2012 and 2013. The class is built on the experience gained from the Absalon class frigates, and by reusing the basic hull design of the Absalons the Royal Danish Navy have been able to construct the Iver Huitfeldt class considerably cheaper than comparable ships. The frigates are compatible with the Danish Navy's StanFlex modular mission payload system used in the Absalons, and are designed with slots for six modules. Each of the four stanflex positions on the missile deck is able to accommodate either the Mk 141 8-cell Harpoon launcher module, or the 12-cell Mark 56 ESSM VLS. The rest two modules are fitted with two 76mm guns while there is a 32-cell Mk41 VLS amidships for 32 SM-2 IIIA (currently) or SM-3, SM-6 or Tomahawk cruise missiles in the future. Iver Huidfeldt is 139 meters long and has a full displacement around 6,650 tons. Unfortunately the access to her was not allowed. Both ships carry an impressive armament. Enjoy the photos!

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